Sunny War

Anarchist Gospel
Sunny War
Sunny War: Joshua Black Wilkins.

Sunny War’s latest record blurs stylistic boundaries, rejecting fatuous labeling. Instead, it’s a document of the human experience – a hypnotic montage of black folk, acoustic blues, country, urban, and avant-garde. It’s lived adventures and harsh personal realities. Produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes), Anarchist Gospel features Van Hunt, who wrote and sang on the soul-stirring “Hopeless,” as well as Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs, and The School Zone Children’s Choir, to name a few.

Acoustic guitars, electrics, and banjos travail the frontiers of folk and dreaminess throughout the album, supporting songs of heartbreak, tragedy, and triumph. War covers Ween’s “Baby Bitch,” layered with world-weary strength, humor, and poignance. “Higher” is a breakup song chronicling War’s real-life emancipation, which left her in search of herself. War’s acoustic fingerpicking is delicate, idiosyncratic, and ghostly as ethereal pedal steel and dramatic piano waft, spirit-like, throughout.

On “Love’s Death Bed,” black-gospel call and response is used to transcend eras, as War’s rural, dominant-7th chords link 1940s folk with ’60s psychedelia and blues harmonica.

Anarchist Gospel is a buffet of haunting American grooves and atmospherics laced with the yin and yang of struggle, self-preservation, and hope.

This article originally appeared in VG’s April 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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